The best year-round event destinations in Europe

If you’ve ever found yourself in Val Thorens in July, you will be familiar with the practicalities of seasonality. We take a look at the European event destinations that work across all seasons – where events can be breath-taking at any time of the year, precisely because of the time of the year.

I was once asked by a native of Copenhagen to elaborate on my description of it as one of the world’s great cities. I described the people as being filled with eternal joy, a product of living amongst urban perfection. The local suggested I return to the city in January to test my assumptions. Seasonality would, they said, offer a whole new perspective on Copenhageners joie de vivre. The point is that even the most incredible settings are a product of their geography and climate, that their cultural product is regulated by natural factors, seasons which ultimately define the hum of a destination.

On or off – the season switch

For an event manager, the thought of being greeted with the sentiment, ‘should have been here last week’ is as dreadful as they come. ‘Off-season’ generally indicates there is a less good time to visit a destination, (whilst the opposite also holds true). As winter ends across the elevated spine of Europe, there are many destinations which won't come back to life until the weeks before Christmas – a long season of empty streets and dormant hotels. Whilst seasonality affects some of the very best corporate ski event resorts – Ischgl, Tignes, Val Thorens to name 3, there are other locations in Europe which are a joy to visit at any time of the year, cities, mountain resorts, or coastal villages where it always feels the right time to be there. Seasonality in these event destinations means something different throughout the year, from weather, to activities, and culture. These destinations don’t to ‘off-seasons’, their products naturally follow the rhythm of the weather, their service industries remain open and event attendees experience a truly authentic experience, shaped by the season.

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc – summer arrives in the valley

Famed around the world as a ski destination Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is reputed to have more overnight stays in summer than winter. At resort level, the snowy pistes and ski boots on terraces are banished, replaced by Parisians strolling the flowery streets, clutching designer handbags and dog leads. Climb upwards toward the vast ice sheets of the Chamonix valley and enter the winter world that many associate Chamonix-Mont-Blanc with, whilst down in the valley the ice has reconstituted into its liquid form and is enjoyed in swimming lakes and rafting the raging rivers. One of the great mountain destinations, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is sensational year-round.

Innsbruck – remarkable events in any week of the year

Another mountain destination that thrives in all seasons is Innsbruck, Austria – the capital of the alps. With glaciers located just to the south of the city, it is possible to enjoy a morning ski in September, followed by lunch on an afternoon terrace in Innsbruck. Winters are about enjoying the skiing above the city in areas such as Mutters, Patscherkofel, Seegrube, Axamer Lizum, Kühtai and the Stubai Glacier. In spring and summer, the city is alive with hiking, mountain biking and water sports, whilst the Old Town hosts countless cultural events. It is easy to imagine hosting an event in Innsbruck in any single week of the year, such are its magnificent range of seasonal identities.

Málaga – true Spain beneath an eternal sun

The eternally sunny, resolutely Spanish city on the southern coast is blessed with consistently marvellous weather. Baked year-round by our nearest star, this city is a joy to visit in all seasons. The gateway to Spain’s most popular coastal regions, Málaga is far removed from the ravages of seasonality experienced by the holiday resorts to the west and east of the city. The winter months see fewer ocean swimmers, but the beaches, harbour and promenades remain hugely popular with the local population. Málaga is a city where winter sun doesn’t fall on shuttered amenities, this is city that thrives year-round and offers a wonderful tonic for those looking to escape the gloom of more northern latitudes. 

Kitzbühel – the most complete year-round mountain resort

Host of the most famous winter sports event in the world, and one of the towering brands in the ski industry, Kitzbühel is in fact magical across all seasons. In spring, the medieval centre expands from the winter catacombs to flood the pedestrian area with dining terraces. The ski lifts haul mountain bikers, rather than skiers to the peaks and like Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, the town attracts those seeking the trappings of the good life. Festivals of local and regional importance take place throughout the year, whilst sporting events such as the ATP Kitzbühel Open bring the crowds in to the town in mid-summer. Synonymous with skiing, Kitzbühel is one the great, year-round mountain destinations.

Monopoli – an unspoilt gem under azure skies

Event planners looking to offer their teams a coastal escape in the winter, need look no further than the emerald heel of Italy. Located just south of Bari, the sun-drenched region in the wild south of Italy offers sunny promenades far beyond the peak summer months. Locals swim year-round, restaurant terraces welcome, and the beautiful life continues unaware of the seasonal clock. With fewer crowds outside the peak summer months, the locals are more visible, ensuring a truly authentic experience in this unspoilt regional gem.

Tromsø – light or dark, but always on

Seasonality is more evident in the Norwegian Arctic than almost any other settled region on earth. Like other places listed above, seasonality in Tromsø is a tremendous asset, adding greatly to the allure of the place across all seasons. Tromsø is a place of enormous contrasts, from eternal darkness to the midnight sun. Tilting of our planetary home offers some of the greatest overhead lightshows possible. And people move to this cyclical rhythm, they visit and experience this arctic gem to experience to power of nature as it bathes us in light or darkness, in plummeting cold or warmth (a very relative term at this latitude). An event in Tromsø is breath-taking at any time of the year – in most cases precisely because of the time of year.

As for my Copenhagen contact, the doom-monger determined to debunk my belief in perpetual happiness amongst the residents, I concede that there are good and great times to visit Copenhagen. That said, put me in a Copenhagen restaurant, in front of rye bread and a beer, on any day of the year, and there’ll be an accompanying wide, wide smile.

Beach and cliffs
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